Monday, July 25, 2011

Chasing Chiles

Chasing Chiles: Hot Spots Along the Pepper Trail
authors: Kurt Michael Friese, Kraig Kraft, Gary Paul Nabhan
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing (March 16, 2011)
ARC read courtesy of Amazon Vine program
1/5 stars

In Chasing Chiles, a chef, an agroecologist and an ethnobotanist take a year long trip to search out the rarest and best peppers.  The book is a nonfiction account of their trip, with each chapter focusing on a particular chile pepper and interspersed with their interpretation of global warming's effect on that pepper.

The book vacillates between an unnamed first person narrator (which one of the three?!?) and a third person point of view.  The anecdotes described are not interesting. The heavily didactic climate change message is weakened by the lack of true research and credibility of the authors.  The overall writing style is a mess, and would have benefited from some honest editing.

Over all, this is not the unique and interesting adventure it was advertised to be, but rather a nearly unreadable attempt at scientific discussion.

Note: This is my opinion; on Amazon, 38% of the reviews were 5 stars.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

American Vampire

Told ya it was good!  American Vampire won the Eisner for Best New Series!  I've read the second one, had it pre-ordered, but haven't reviewed it yet because I want to read it again before I do.  I swallowed it whole, in one sitting, and as a result I know I missed a lot.  Am going to go back for a leisurely read, to savor it, as soon as I have a break from class.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Dune Group Read, Round 2

I finished reading the second "book" in Dune last night, so it's time for the Dune Group Read, Round 2 (hosted by Stainless Steel Droppings).  Little Red Reviewer was responsible for this set of questions.

Was Liet's identity a surprise?  Who do you think he really works for?
Completely!  I was shocked and pleased, as Kynes was a favorite character from the first book.  I was tremendously disappointed when he died, as I had hoped to know him better.  Of course, his death scene revealed a lot about him, for which I was glad, but I still felt a little cheated.  I think he worked for himself and his obsession of changing Arrakis.  

What do you think of the Fremen culture?  Is this a culture you think you'd enjoy spending some time with?
I think Herbert has done a fantastic job creating the Fremen culture.  It's one of the better parts of the book.  There appear to be so many layers to their mythology and customs; I'm hoping more layers will be peeled back as we go on.  I admire them greatly, but I'm too soft, too full of water if you will, to imagine myself actually a part (even a visitor) of the Fremen society.

What do you think of Count Fenring's unusual verbal mannerisms?  
I thought he used his humming sounds to look like the rabbit that  Feyd-Rautha took him to be.  That he was able to also use it as code to his wife was amusing.  It made for tough reading at times, though.

This is a far future empire with very little in the way of computerization. Information is often passed down orally, and schools (such as the Mentats and the Bene Gesserit) have formed to train young people in memorization and information processing.  What are you thoughts on a scifi story that is very "low-tech"?  Does that sound like a feasible future? a ridiculous one?
There are still vast high tech elements, enough so that the book still qualifies as sci fi.  As for the low tech, it's not unusual in sci fi or fantasy to mix the high tech with the low tech, and it's generally so as to create a culture of bards or druids, like the Bene Gesserit and Mentats.  So, I found it typical of what I've read before and not problematic at all.  Of course, I'm a steampunk as well, so it's a feature I particularly enjoy, this blending of tech levels. 

If you found the beginning of the book tough to get into, do you find that you're having an easier time with the middle portion, now that all the "set-up" is complete?
I loved the beginning, raced through it eagerly.  I admit to finding this middle section less compelling.  I've still enjoyed it tremendously, but it hasn't stayed continuously on my mind like the first section did.  Of all the elements in the book, I'm having a harder time swallowing Paul's sudden prescience than anything, and he's my least favorite character.  Terrible, I know, but there you have it.  So, since this entire section is mostly focused on him, I'm a little less enthralled.

The center portion of the book is still pretty dialog heavy, but what I've noticed is the subtlety of the dialog. Things left unsaid are often more important than things that are said.  What do you think of that as a stylistic choice? does it make the dialog more interesting? less interesting?
I honestly hadn't noticed the things left unsaid; I must not be reading it carefully enough.  I don't have a problem with the dialog--didn't notice it being dialog-heavy until I read someone's  (Little Red Reviewer's perhaps?) comments for the first round--so I must not be as sensitive to dialogue as most folks.  I did feel like Liet's death scene was a trifle strained with dialogue, but I was glad to get the info at the same time, so didn't mind it overmuch.

Dune was written in the 60's. Does it feel dated to you? How does it compare, writing style-wise, to more contemporary science fiction you've read?
No, it doesn't feel dated to me at all, but then I read a lot of Victorian lit, so I'd say a book would have to some pretty antiquated language for me to notice.  Not having a lot of tech gadgets described helps that timeless feel to it, as well.

 If you've never read this book before, where do you think the storyline is headed? 
Some sort of conflict between Paul and Feyd-Rautha, maybe, and something tragic to happen to Chani perhaps.  Complete inability of Paul and Jessica to see eye to eye, could happen.  But on the whole, I have no real feelings, I'm just enjoying the ride.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sunday Salon: Epic Fantasy and Children's Books

Musing for this week's Sunday Salon.

This summer, blogging (and most other things, like dish-washing) has fallen by the way side due to taking two intense courses.  The one that was intense because it was crammed into one month is over (I finished it with a 97%; "Hermionie Granger", anyone?) and the one that is intense because of the amount of reading is still on-going.  It's a lovely course, though, about what makes good children's literature.  I am LOVING this class.  Many of the books assigned, I had read at least once before, and I've also discovered some fantastic books that were new to me. 

Each Little Bird that Sings, for example, was incredible.  Once we're done studying it, I'll post a review.  Another one that has knocked my socks off is Shabanu: Daughter of the Wind.  I'm writing my literary analysis on this one, and once I'm finished with it, will write a review.  I've been introduced to some wonderful picture books and easy readers (Mo Willems has become a favorite with my private therapy student and I) and over all the class has been a joy.  How wonderful it is to be able to discuss books with someone else that loves them as passionately as I do (aside from my husband, mother, Sarah and Deb, that is).  Of course, the class is peopled with students who don't care and even a few who strongly dislike having a Hermione Granger in their class.  I'm trying to grow a thicker skin.  You'd think, being nearly 40, I could manage to care less about the people around me than I did as I as undergrad all those years ago.  I blame it on the Asperger's, that need to be liked.  But I digress, and it is still a fantastic class regardless of the people in it.  (And I'm the only one with a 100% average after six papers and a midterm. . . Overachieve much?)

YA and juvie books are regular reads for me, but I needed a little break from them, since I'm getting so many in my class.  I picked up Dune, as I mentioned here, and boy am I glad I did!  What a gripping epic thus far!  I know it's sci fi, but it reads like an epic fantasy to me and I'm enthralled.  I'm still behind in the reading group, but I don't feel any pressure.  It's fun to know I'll have interesting questions to address when I get there.

On the way home tonight, I heard an interesting interview with George R. R. Martin.  I became totally entranced in the idea of his series.  I've got a Game of Thrones on Kindle now, and it's going  to be my  next book to read, after Dune.  Guess I'm in an epic fantasy kinda mood.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Dune Group Read, Round 1

As I mentioned in my previous post, I had recently picked up Dune and was surprised and delighted to find a Dune Group Read ongoing.  I just finished the first part (about ten minutes ago), spent all day snatching reads in between duties; it's just that good.  Here are my responses to the questions for Round 1.

1. What, if any, preconceived ideas did you have before you started reading Dune and how has the first section measured up to those preconceptions? 
The only notion I had of Dune, was an image in my mind of the cover, which I shelved a few times some twenty years ago when I worked in a library.  I knew it was sandy and that there was a boy, because that was what I remembered from the cover.  Also, I knew it was supposed to be a sci fi classic, and was intimidated by it.  I was right about the sand, and the boy.  The fanatics are right about the quality.  I was immediately immersed in the culture and world and have been enchanted and addicted throughout the whole first section.

2. What did you think about the plot device of the early revelation that Yueh was to be the traitor?
I found it made the story line more intense, because I could actually see the misdeed as it happened. Herbert draws Yueh as a surprisingly round character; I liked him, I sympathized with him, I agonized for him. I never felt anger toward him and as the episode spiraled towards it's end, I wanted the plan to work--yes, at the Duke's expense--because he was that appealing a character to me. (But then, I've always rooted for the life-hardened hero-villain; just ask my husband about our years of argument over Snape, which culminated with me being right.)

3. What was your favorite part of this first section? Which character(s) do you find most interesting and why?
Oops, guess I jumped ahead there in the last question.  Yeuh was certainly the one I found most interesting.  His motives and his plan made him a very sympathetic character for me.  Kynes was also a favorite.  I look forward to finding out more about him, what he's hiding, what makes him tick.

My favorite part was watching how the prophecy fit around Paul and Lady Jessica.  I was convinced myself, until I was convinced otherwise, that the prophecy was true.  All the signs were there. . .  I really enjoyed how Herbert worked it all in so neatly.  Oh, and his quotes from the various religious texts and other works by Princess Irulan--loved those.  I felt like I was completely submerged in another world and I loved reading all these clues about it. 

4. Did the revelation about the Harkonnen surprise you?
It did, but probably not as much as it should have.  I was so caught up in all of Paul's revelations at that moment, feeling his angst, that it was just one more in the line of incredible things happening to him at that moment.  I do look forward to seeing how it works out, though.

5. Finally, please share some overall thoughts on this first section of the book. Are you finding it difficult to follow? Easy to understand? Engaging? Boring? Just share what you are thinking thus far.
I'm loving it.  I feel the same way I did when I first read the LOTR or the Gandalara Cycle--a total immersion in an amazing, living, breathing world and I'm having a hard time thinking of anything else. I'm so glad I decided to finally give it a try!  (I'm also finding it interesting to see how much Dune has influenced the sci fi/fantasy genre, Randall Garrett and WoW for starters, and I know I'll find more as I keep reading.)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Reading Lolita in Tehran

Reading Lolita in Tehran
Azar Nafisi
5/5 stars

Nafisi has written not an autobiography, but a story of her love affair with certain books and authors. She divides her life into four important phases, and the four books or authors that influenced her during that time in her life. It is a mix of personal memories, important moments in Iranian history, what she was reading at the time and how it colored her impressions.

She begins with what would be the next-to-the-last sequentially, the start of her home class and the reading of Lolita. That Nafisi is an excellent literature professor shines through from the beginning. She doesn't merely mention the books, she discusses them, as though with a class, discussing plot, characters, details, meaning. I, who had never been interested in Lolita or Nabokov, became convinced of his worth solely due to her enthusiasm and passion for his works.

She follows with the Iranian revolution and the subsequent "trial" of Gatsby in her classroom. Henry James accompanies the times following the revolution, the war with Iraq, her feelings of uselessness and her return to teaching. She ends with Jane Austen, more about her home class, how she ended up in America and where all her "girls" are now.

Though this could have easily been a depressing book, about life in Iran, it is not. Instead, Nafisi has written about the beauty and hope of the novel, how it affected her and how she wanted it to affect her students.

Nafisi is a kindred spirit to all us ardent bibliophiles. She expresses in words the passion, exhilaration and transfiguration I often feel during and after reading a novel and has lit a fire in me to re-read several classics she mentioned. This is definitely a five star book!

(Originally read/reviewed in 2004.)

Charlotte's Web

Charlotte's Web
E. B. White
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins (October 2, 2001)
Winner: 1953 Newbery Honor Award
5/5 stars

(Yes, more from my Children's Lit class. . . )

Charlotte's Web is White's classic story about the friendship of a pig, a girl and a spider.  Fern saves Wilbur, the runt of the litter, from an untimely death, and hand raises him.  When he is too big to stay with Fern, her uncle buys him, with the intent of enjoying pork all winter.  Wilbur makes a friend in his new home, an intelligent and kind spider named Charlotte.  Charlotte makes it her life's goal to save Wilbur, regardless of the costs to herself.  It is a novel of friendship, of life and death, and of the power of the written word.

Though White's prose is perfect, it is sometimes clinical, lacking some of the more exciting literary devices that make prose pop and sparkle.  His understanding of ten year old girls seems a bit lacking, but his ability to detail farm life and spider behavior make the animal characters and background come alive.  I can't help but wish Fern's character had been more rounded out, and that she had played more a part later in the story, but White's focus was on the barnyard and not on the human players.

Rereading Charlotte's Web is like visiting an old friend: it stays the same but yet there is always something new as well.  This time was no different, and I was newly impressed with White's message on the importance of words and language.  As always, I found his depiction of true friendship to be beautiful and moving. 

Despite any minor complaints I may have, Charlotte's Web is a warm, funny, and real book and deservedly a classic.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Dune Group Read!

I picked up Dune a few weeks ago. It's one of those that I always knew I should read but never had gotten around to it. Looking for something as different from my Children's Lit class as possible, it seemed the right time to try Herbert's classic. Imagine my surprise when, catching up on blogs, I stumbled across Carl V. doing a group read of Dune! It has just started, and these are the questions for the first third. I hope to catch up to my other Dune readers and join in on the discussion!

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Brian Selznick, author and illustrator
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Hardcover: 544 pages
Publisher: Scholastic Press; First Edition edition (January 30, 2007)
winner: 2008 Caldecott Medal
4/5 stars

Hugo Cabret is an orphan, living in a Paris train station, and trying to keep from being discovered.  He has become obsessed with a broken clockwork figure, spending hours studying diagrams and other clockworks so that he can repair it.

Needing pieces, and having no money with which to purchase them, he steals small clockwork figures from a toy stall in the station.  When he is caught by the toymaker, his world takes a drastic turn, filling Hugo's life with mystery and adventure.

Selznick's novel is the first (and so far, only) novel to win a Caldecott award, an honor more usually given to picture books.  This is because The Invention of Hugo Cabret is a story told in pictures as well as words; the initial forty-five pages are illustrations, moving the story along breathlessly, before the first word is read.  These two-page illustrations are a hand-drawn visual delight.  In addition, as the story blends history with fiction beautifully, Selznick includes still photographs from the story's era, as well as frames from the silent movies that figure so prominently in the plot.

The prose does not equal the magnificence of the illustrations, sadly.  It is awkward at points, with sometimes stiff dialogue and a not-always-believable plot line.  That is overshadowed by the beauty of the art, though, and by the historical elements Selznick has woven into his fiction.

While certainly not a literary masterpiece, the visual experience of The Invention of Hugo Cabret   makes this a book well worth reading.

Geisha, a Life

Geisha, a Life
Mineko Iwasaki
5/5 stars

I found this a fascinating book, filled with glimses into the culture and customs of Japan. I knew little of Japan before I read it, but Mineko filled in many gaps and clarified many misconceptions.

She was the most successful geisha (actually "geiko") of her time--beautiful, graceful and determined. And yet, she grew tired of the life, and retired at the very early age of twenty-nine, ending the ancient Iwasaki line.

She begins her book with her early childhood and her reasons for becoming a geiko. She takes the reader through training and all it's rigours through to her enormous success. She alludes to her disillusionment with the geiko life, and to her attempts to reform the educational traditions, but does not specify any of these. I was disappointed in that, for, having watched her mature in this book, I would like to have known more about her reform attempts, to have seen her in that role.

Geisha, A Life is not the most well-written of books, which could be due to either author or translator. But then, that doesn't really matter. Let's face it. . . no one reads an autobiography for literary merit. Autobiographies are read in an attempt to KNOW the writer, and in that aspect, Mineko succeeded--I felt like I was ending a conversation with a good friend when I closed this book.

(Originally read/reviewed in 2004.)

Monday, July 11, 2011

King, Queen, Knave

King, Queen, Knave
Vladimir Nabokov
4/5 stars

Franz has come to Berlin for a job. His mother's wealthy cousin (Dreyer) has kindly agreed to take him on in his department store. What neither Dreyer nor Franz has considered is that Mrs. Martha Dreyer would also kindly consent to take him on as her lover. It takes a little planning on her part, but finally the shy, lanky Franz becomes her secret lover, her ticket to a world without Dreyer.

King, Queen, Knave is a typical triangle love story. And yet, it's not. Nabokov, even in this early novel, has an excellent feel for human beings, what makes them do what they do and just how much they can stand. Franz and Martha's relationship moves from the sublime to the detestable for Franz, while he becomes a lifeline to Martha. Dreyer, seeing good in all the world, is easily duped--though easily duping Martha on the side.

As with Lolita, the plot is not all that great, and I can't truly say I "enjoyed" the book. But nonetheless, I couldn't stop reading it. I had to continue watching the dynamics change between the King, the Queen and the Knave and see just how the hand was played out.

(Originally read and reviewed in 2004.)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Standing Alone: An American Woman’s Struggle for the Soul of Islam by Asra Q. Nomani

Standing Alone: An American Woman’s Struggle for the Soul of Islam  
Asra Q. Nomani
5/5 stars

Journalist Asra Nomani is a woman of much complexity-she is a single mom, a career woman and an American Muslim. The birth of her son Shibli, and her desertion by Shibli's father, marks a turning point in her life and leads her to give more serious thought to her spiritual life, the result of which is her desire to participate in the hajj, the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca.

Standing Alone in Mecca is the very personal memoir of Nomani's experiences during the hajj, of her struggles as a woman in what has become a male dominant religion, of her search for a God of love among all the dogma, and finally of how the journey helped her redefine her spiritual life. She examines her life prior to the hajj, tries to work out the knotty problems of issues like pre-marital sex and divine forgiveness and the horror that some have done in the name of her faith. Nomani bares her heart and her soul to the reader as she seeks her truth.

This books is more than just a spiritual journal, though. It also gives outsiders a closer, clearer few of Islam, it's practices and it's history. I found it to be not only enlightening, but very timely for our age.

Ms. Nomani has opened a new world for me by helping me be rid of many stereotypes and prejudices that I had unwittingly harbored. I hope that others will read it and find the same release from ignorance and a renewal of love and respect for others.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Married to Bhutan: How One Woman Got Lost, Said "I Do," and Found Bliss

Married to Bhutan: How One Woman Got Lost, Said "I Do," and Found Bliss
Linda Leaming
Paperback: 264 pages
Publisher: Hay House (April 1, 2011)
read and reviewed ARC, courtesy of Amazon Vine Program
4.5/5 stars

In Married to Bhutan, Leaming tells of how she visited Bhutan, fell in love with the country, and sold everything she had to move there. She became a volunteer English teacher at an art school, striving to become part of the community and always finding new reasons to love Bhutan. Then, something unexpected happened: she and an artist at the school fell in love with each other and begin a traditional Bhutanese courtship that culminated in marriage. Leaming's love for Bhutan and her love for her new husband, Phurba, compliment each other and give her the emotional strength she needed as she continued to adjust to her new country.

Leaming writes about Bhutan as one writes of their beloved; it so obvious from her prose how deeply affected she is by the people, terrain and culture around her. She weaves this love into the history and stories she tells, and her love for Phurba adds to the depth of what she shares.

She often compares Bhutan to the U.S., but never in a condescending way, Instead of making a judgment on one way or the other, she simply presents the two ways and leaves it to the reader to form any opinions.

Married to Bhutan is a gentle book, and one that makes the reader laugh, cry and think. Most of all, though, the reader walks away feeling glad to have witnessed such a beautiful love story.

Martina the Beautiful Cockroach (Picture Book 6/6)

Martina the Beautiful Cockroach
Carmen Agra Deedy, author
Michael Austin, illustrator
Reading level: Ages 4-8
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Peachtree Publishers (September 1, 2007)
Pura Belpre Award, Honor Book, 2008.
Category: Folk tale.
Style: Cartoon style/traditional style.
Media: Acrylic on illustration board. 

5/5 stars

Martina the Beautiful Cockroach  is a retelling of a traditional Cuban folk tale.  In this version, Martina (the beautiful cockroach) is beset with inappropriate suitors and, following her Grandmother's advice, pours coffee on each one's shoes to see how he would respond to her when angry.  Thanks to Abeula's test, Martina is able to dismiss the terrible suitors and find true love.  

Deedy often pairs important words with their Spanish counterparts in a casual and friendly way which teaches Spanish words without appearing to teach at all.  She makes great use of repetition in the song sung to Martina by the suitors.  She also uses humor and occasional puns.

Though cartoon-like, in that these are anthropomorphic animals and insects, Austin has carefully and delicately crafted both the characters and the scenes, so that it often appears as lovely as a traditional painting.  He has carried the humor of the story into the illustrations, especially in the objects used in the cockroach household: cigar boxes for the grand staircase, for example.  He uses rich, full colors but soft lines.   The perspective changes often, though not drastically. He makes use of a variety of techniques; the illustrations are at times in frames, occasionally they cross the gutter into both pages,  and sometimes they are straight-forward one page illustrations.  It is a pleasure to view.

This is a truly amusing book and sounds lovely when read aloud. This age group will have no connection with the idea of finding a proper husband, but should enjoy the humor.   It is most likely too hard for typical readers of this age group to read alone.  It could be used in the classroom when learning about Cuba, or about folktales.

Tuesday (Picture Book 5/6)

David Wiesner, author and illustrator
Reading level: Ages 4-8
Paperback: 32 pages
Publisher: Sandpiper (August 18, 1997)
Winner: Randolph Caldecott Medal, 1992.
Category: Picture Storybook/wordless/fantasy.
Style: Surrealism/realism/Impressionism
Media: Watercolor on Arches paper.

5/5 stars

In Tuesday, Wiesner tells the humorous story of a group of frogs on a Tuesday evening.  They are delighted when their lily pads suddenly begin to fly them around the countryside and nearby town.  The frogs are seen by shocked animals and people, and are quite disappointed when their new found magic stops and they return to sitting in the pond.  Wiesner uses very few words, and those only to tell the time of day, relying on his art to tell the story.

Wiesner’s painting style is dreamy and soft, incorporating elements of the  Impressionist style: soft lines, gentle colors, faded backgrounds.  His anatomy (animal and human, alike) is realistic, as is the architecture and flora.   Encompassing both those styles, however, is the surrealism of the story he is telling.  The expressions on the various frog faces are especially delightful.  The colors he uses clearly denote the time of day: blues and purples at night, with yellows and whites becoming more prominent as day breaks.   He uses a variety of layouts: panels inside full page illustrations,  double page illustrations that cross the gutter, and single page illustrations.

Tuesday  is certainly appropriate for the intended age group.  A preschooler would be able to “read” this story to herself, thanks to Wiesner’s explicit expressions and easy-to-follow sequence of events.  For any age group, this book could be used to start a conversation about fantasy and reality.  It could also be used to work on the skills of memory, sequencing and retelling. 

Shadow (Picture Book 4/6)

Shadow (From the French of Blaise Cendrars)
Marcia Brown, author and illustrator
Reading level: Ages 4-8
Paperback: 40 pages
Publisher: Aladdin (November 1, 1995) 
Winner: Randolph Caldecott Medal, 1983.
Category: Myth/poetry
Style: Folk art
Media: Woodblock/papercraft/collage
Grades: preschool- 2nd grade. (Ages 4-8)

4/5 stars

In Shadow, Brown translates Blaise Cendrars’ poem explaining various native African myths surrounding shadows.  She uses free verse, and it often has a flowing rhythm.  There is no plot, just a series of myths about “Shadow”, some contradictory, and all rather creepy.  She employs descriptive language to add to the eerie feeling.

The woodblock/paper collage illustrations are stunning in both their intricacy and their simplicity.  Simple, smooth lines belie the fact that they are meticulously crafted.  A use of bold colors for day time and rich dark tones for night invoke the time of day perfectly. Shadow itself is most often a faded, translucent gray, tissue paper in appearance, enhancing the mysteriousness of Shadow.  The texture of the paint in the background creates mountains and plains that one expects to be able to touch.  Brown uses the folk art style, imitating traditional African art in the illustrations.  The perspective is often stylized, as is often the case with folk art, and most all of the illustrations are two-page, unframed illustrations that cross the gutter.

Though visually stimulating, I can’t find that this is appropriate for the recommended age group.  It is, at times, a frightening book both in story and pictures.  The lack of plot and often contradictory nature of the myths could make it most confusing, even if it wasn’t scary.  It also depicts a stereotypical type of “noble savage” image for native Africans that is not considered appropriate now.   For older children (8-12, perhaps?), it could be used as a tool when discussing African history and myths, as long as it was balanced by other information.  It would make a good discussion tool for preteens when discussing how myths can have many explanations for one phenomenon.  I think it would be most enjoyed by (and appropriate for) adults, who can appreciate the free verse and the spectral nature of the topic.